Blue Jays: What will attendance be like this year?
The Blue Jays lead the American League in attendance last year despite a rough season. Will the fans come out in 2018 if the team isn’t competing again?
Whether you were a fan of the trades that Alex Anthopoulos made a few years ago or not, there’s one thing that shouldn’t be up for debate: the back to back playoff appearances have rejuvenized the Blue Jays’ fan base.
We saw people coming out in droves throughout 2015 and 2016, and despite the fact that they spent all but one day in the basement of the AL East last season, the Blue Jays lead the American League in attendance with over 3.2 million coming through the gates. Part of that was because of how long it took the team to officially fall out of the wild card race, but there’s no doubt that the success of the previous two years had a big influence.
Which brings us to 2018, and wondering what kind of fan support we’ll see at the Rogers Centre this year. Of course the most important issue by far is whether or not the team is winning, so a hot start to the season will go a long way to helping sell tickets. It was winning that brought the fans back to the Rogers Centre, and winning will keep them there as well.
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However, we’re already starting to see signs of discontent within the fan base, at least in terms of the way tickets are selling so far. For example, as of this writing you can still get tickets to the Blue Jays’ home opener on March 29th against the Yankees. For many years, the tickets for the Home Opener were the most popular of the season, even when the Blue Jays weren’t expected to compete at all. In the past few years they’ve sold out on day one, and sometimes even in the first hour. Not so much this year.
There could be several reasons for this as well, including a 3:37pm EST start, which makes it difficult for those who work day jobs until 5pm. It could also be the increased ticket prices this year, although that generally happens most seasons, whether fans notice or not (they sure did after a losing season in 2017).
But if I were going to guess, I would think that the ballpark would have been packed to the rafters had the Blue Jays been in the playoff race last year, or even went out and made some more significant free agent signings this offseason. I’m not saying that would have been the best plan of action by any means, but appealing to the masses rarely works at it’s best with rationale thinking.
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What always works though, is winning, and hopefully the Blue Jays can get off to a much better start than they did last year to set the tone for a better season. At this stage of the ticket sales, it looks like Blue Jays fans will need a little proof from their beloved team in order to support them with the same vigour, and there’s nothing wrong with that.